Embracing Community: Become Your Customers’ Trusted Adviser – Social Media Today

The aim of every large company looking to grow their brand equity and engage with their customers is to become a “trusted adviser”. What is a trusted adviser? It’s the person that, as a consumer, you go to first when you have a question.

So, what’s the benefit in becoming a trusted adviser? Simply, you do more business, people are likely to stay longer with companies that they regard as a trusted adviser and they’re also likely to be more amenable to additional offers from that company.

Why do so many companies fail at being the trusted adviser. The main touch point with your customers, unless you sell through outlets, is likely to be your support organisation. It’s here that your brand needs to invest in customer trust. You lose that trust in a number of ways:

Channels – you don’t provide the communications channels that your customers want.

Culture – Outsourced call centers in other countries create a cultural divide between you and your customers. It tells them that your main concern is cost and not their well being.

Training – Poorly trained support engineers damage your brand. Their ineptitude is transferred to your company in the minds of your customers.

Call Center Infrastructure –  Not having the right systems in place to empower your customer support engineers.

Community – Not engaging in your community ultimately tells your customers that you’re not interested in what they have to say.

The last of these — community — is becoming increasingly critical to your business. In part, this is because if you have a vibrant and effective community, it can remove the pressure from your phone support organisation. This can provide both the breathing space and budget for you to transform to a service-oriented organisation.

Social CRM requires you to engage with your customers, become part of their conversations, understand their concerns, play a part in their lives, listen to them, solve their problems and adapt your products based on their needs. Oddly this is nothing new, this is what you should always have been doing if you want to remain successful but today’s social media tools provide more effective weapons in your arsenal than you’ve ever had before to achieve this.

So if you want to transform your support organisation and become a trusted adviser, engage your community, serve it and learn from it. The rewards will far outweigh the costs.

Published in Social Media Today, June, 2011

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